Friday, February 14, 2014

Indian Explorer : 1 : Siddhagiri Experience

Few weeks back, me and some of my friends were on a trip to Kolhapur, Maharashtra. A friend of ours was getting engaged in Miraj, near Kolhapur. So we planned to attend the ceremony, and visit places nearby. 

We went to a beautiful place called Siddhagiri Gram Jeevan Museum, Kaneri Math. It is actually a peaceful monastery, with beautiful temples inside. Their spiritual leader came up with an idea of this museum and encouraged his people to build one.

Spread across a very large area, they have built a life size traditional village in India. Across that village, there are statues of ordinary people doing all kinds of activities in village. Actually calling them statue would be an understatement to describe the experience you have while watching them. 

As you start moving towards village, you are welcome by lovely farms in the outskirts. You notice people are working in farm, children are playing around, some animals also. It seems so real, that only when you go near them, you notice that they are actually statues. Such is the beauty of their creation.

They worked on minute details of the village, villagers, colonies, shops, temples, offices, different professionals, classes of people, and different styles of living and clothing according to their identity. The vastness of those details tells you that how well the creators of this place know life in India.

Over these few years, they are continuously developing and expanding this project. 

One part of the museum is a kind of "cave of fame" or tribute to ancient Indian saints and scientists. The combination seems strange, but in India, we call Rishis to people with wisdom. The area of knowledge may be different from person to person, but knowledge was respected everywhere. Many debate that these Rishis, were actually scientists or researchers, exploring different arenas of world.

In this cave, you find statues of different Rishis, who excelled in different streams, like medicine, drama, agriculture, mathematics etc. Many geniuses of Ayurveda, who invented treatments on many diseases, tried their hands in very first surgeries of world. 

Again, calling them statues is an understatement. These are not simple half size or full body statues where the statue simply stares at you. These are people in action. A doctor performing surgery, a chemist in his lab, a teacher with his students. Detailed information about each of these eminent personalities and their work is written next to their statue. 

We were truly amazed and feeling proud after passing each statue in this cave. Many facts came as surprise to us. That so many incredible things were done in Ancient India, so many arts or sciences India taught to world, in addition to the concept of Zero. Many theorems, trigonometry was known to Indians, but we believe them today to be invented by Greeks. Ayurveda is such a powerful sect of medical practices, but its potential is not fully realized today.

This was an enriching experience. It told us aloud that everything Indian is not backward, everything ancient is not boring, and everything rural is not uncool.

I highly recommend this place to everyone. Go visit the beauty of Indian heartland. Understand the history of India and feel proud.